Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Together in a front for the Cham ideal

(Impressions from Servet Mehmeti,
former director
of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”)

The rivers flow in eternity from faraway fountains, fruit of God. The rivers’ bottoms are their lands and nobody can take them out, as it is the territory of the Cham Albanians. It’s their land, given from God. It’s sufficient to read the poem “Cham ballad” of the dissident Cham writer Bilal Xhaferri and everything is clearly understood. He writes:

The rainbow, like a tearful greeting of goodbye,
Disappeared beyond the distances,
Over the flame crests,
in the rain…
Beyond the distances disappeared in flames Chameria
And all our streets lead to north.
Wails the Mediterranean wind over the ancient epyriot lands,
over the dear ancestral lands.
In the abandoned pastures are grazing the thunderclaps.
The unpicked olive-groves thunder like the waves along the hillocks.
And everywhere the Cham land,
covered by the clouds,
groans tearful and bloody,
left lonesome,
without godhead.
We are shown the way by the bullets that whistle in darkness.
We are lightened the way by the flames that have swallowed up all earth.
Behind our backs the windstorm hits the ramshackle house doors.
And the streets reach and reach the north.
We, a deported population, walk along the rain…
Goodbye, Chameria!

But why did the Cham population suffer such barbaric actions, why was it massacred violently, why did this calamity strike these people of mother Chameria?! They loved Albania, their nation. But the violence and the barbarism of the bad and evil people, such as the Greek chauvinists, unstrapped them from its trunk. Besides Bilal’s poetic spirit and the injustice toward the Cham population, it was even the blind judgment of the people, who didn’t appreciate the freedom and the right. Bilal Xhaferri, like the Chams, has been victimized by the communist dictatorship. The dictatorial system persecuted him, even though he went away, went far away to save his dignity, the dignity that was the life itself for him.

Bilal Xhaferri went on developing his literary and publicistic activity in America. His creations had a big echo at Diaspora’s press. In particular echoed “Eagle’s wing” magazine created and published by him. But even in America, the dark shadows of communism didn’t left Bilal in peace, opposing him by all means, and so he was prey to their violence. Regardless of this situation, Bilal went ahead with his activity at service of the country, with a more special zeal. Unwittingly, he had against him two countries: the maternal Albania, which was leaded then by a communist clique and the neighboring Greece that had ousted his brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers from their own lands. So, Bilal’s work was extinguished at the very peak of his attempts. It was extinguished a dignified successor of Hoxhë Tahsini, Abedin Pashë Dino, Muharrem Rushiti etc., men who have illuminated the history of Albania.

Even Bilal illuminates with his light the issue of the Cham pain. We hereby should thank the former Chairman of the Parliament of Albania, Mr. Pjetër Arbnori, the writer Shefki Hysa, director of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and editor of “Eagle’s wing” magazine, the relatives and the well-wishers that enabled the return of Bilal Xhaferri’s bones in Albania.

A group of intellectuals, headed by the writer and editor Shefki Hysa, as a sign of consideration for Bilal Xhaferri’s works and creations, which shed some light on the reality of the Albanian pain, created the Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri”, as a necessity to widely inform the public for the work of a big writer, a big patriot at service of the Cham issue. The Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri” was opened and quickly strengthened, and in 1993 was created even the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and began being published “Eagle’s wing” magazine, which was published before by Bilal himself in America. These institutions were a new support, a new wing of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”. I have so evaluated these endeavors as director of “Chameria” Association during 2003-2006.

“Eagle’s wing” (Krahu i shqiponjës) magazine has given a special help to introduce and propound the Cham issue before people’s opinion. It is known for its social, cultural, historical values and especially for the patriotic opinion that predominates in its writings. During 2004 “Chameria” Association intensified the collaboration with “Eagle’s wing” magazine for treating and approving in parliament a resolution for the solution of the Cham problem. So the press, the televisions and the pan-Albanian opinion would be aware of this problem. Unfortunately the resolution wasn’t approved owing to the Greek pressure. The most typical example was the former Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, who inhibited its approval.

In this difficult period, excepting the unusual activity of “Chameria” Association’s structures, was necessary even the contribution of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and that of “Eagle’s wing” (Krahu i shqiponjës) magazine, especially the contribution of its director, the writer Shefki Hysa, coordinator of all the contacts, the meetings and the conversations with deputies, parliamentary groups and parliamentary commissions of the Parliament of Albania.

The collaboration and the cooperation between such structures of the Cham community have been and actually are an indispensable exigency and they ought to be appreciated, mostly when a national issue, like the Cham issue, needs a solution. I want to stress that it’s quite necessary the coordination of actions between “Chameria” Association, the Institute of History for Chameria and the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”, so to act as a powerful organism and with one purpose, inside and outside Albania, for the solution of the Cham issue. We should align ourselves in a front, for the sake of the Cham ideal. Furthermore, it’s required a good organization and the strengthening of the organism’s structures from the bases to the center.

They have to become the real chiefs of the Cham community. Only in this way the Cham issue can find a solution, as an ideal of all the patriotic and honest Albanians, as a pan-national objective. I am stressing one more time that the solution of the Cham problem, the return of the Chams in Chameria, in their ancestral motherland, will come only as a result of the collaboration between these organizations that represent the Cham community.

So the Cham community can become a compelling factor in Albania and abroad and it can achieve its objective concerning the Albanian state’s politics and this one will so feel responsibility and constitutional obligation for the national issue, a necessity and an exigency for our national prestige and pride. The solution of the Cham issue is based on the politics that the Albanian state will pursue regarding Greece and other international partners. It must keep its body straight in the treatment of this issue. Only in this way the Cham ideal can be finalized. Let’s work together and let’s hope for a safe future.

Servet Mehmeti
Former director
of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”

March, 2009

Translated by Endri Hysa

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

“Bilal Xhaferri” Mission

(Impressions from Pjetër Arbnori,
Chairman of the Parliament of Albania)

Honored friends of the defunct Bilal Xhaferri!

I am expressing myself not as the Chairman of the Parliament of Albania but as your friend, as a coeval and a co-sufferer of big men like Bilal Xhaferri, the well-known poet, prosator and publicist, as Mr. Shefki Hysa defines him. Shefki Hysa has been so zealous in his mission for the exaltation of this brilliant figure, consigned to oblivion by the communist dictatorship, which did the same with many other patriots, which did the same with Pjetër Arbnori.

I am expressing myself as honor member of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and as Chairman of the Commission for the Ceremony Organization for the return of Bilal’s bones in Albania. I was in charge of this duty and I think I have done well.

I know from experience that it isn’t easy to deal with such complex figures as that of Bilal Xhaferri. It is one of the most difficult missions that a smart man can undertake. Mr. Shefki Hysa had the courage to be in charge of this mission and he succeeded in arousing the Albanians’ memory for the extraordinary talent of Bilal Xhaferri. Shefki managed to bring him back in the native land and now he reposes in his birthplace, Saranda.

I think that with this human act, Mr. Shefki Hysa, the Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri” and the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” have completed their mission for the Cham issue. They have served to Chameria like nobody else, of course with our help and yours too. Anyway, in my opinion, “Bilal Xhaferri” mission can be defined as complete, notwithstanding the fulfillments and the fineries that time and other patriots following Mr.Shefki Hysa will bring…

Pjetër Arbnori
Chairman of the Parliament of Albania

May, 1995
I haven’t made a praying to die!

(Impressions from Qani Biraçi,
former director of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”)

It’s just a little to talk about my friend Shefki Hysa, and he doesn’t like the fact of talking about him. It’s sufficient to talk about Bilal Xhaferri and the activity of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and he feels satisfied. He says that his friends have fulfilled the duty toward him if they support the mission he leads.

According to my opinion Shefki Hysa is a simple man, idealist, and very zealous to open new streets in literature as a writer and very persistent as a patriot, to give support and justice to the martyr population of Chameria.

I know Shefki Hysa since the creation of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria” in 1991. His writings at “Chameria” newspaper were a balsam for the Cham population. The storybooks and the novels published by him had the flavor of Chameria and we, as Chams, enjoyed them so much.

I knew Shefki when he leaded the Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri” and the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”. I knew him when le leaded “Eagle’s wing” magazine too, where he wrote so much about Chameria, and I began to appreciate him more.

The Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”, under the direction of Shefki Hysa, was becoming day by day a strong support for Chameria. In 1994, in a difficult period, when segments of the Albanian state left without offices the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”, my friend, Shefki Hysa offered for interaction the offices of his association, notwithstanding the misunderstandings and the tensions with some Cham headmen, who were concerned for their own interests rather than the exaltation of the Cham ideal.

When I was the director of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”, Shefki Hysa participated in every activity, giving an extraordinary contribution for our organization and for the Cham issue. I have a lot of beautiful memories from the work and friendship with the writer Shefki Hysa. We passed together a difficult period. It was when the structures of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria” didn’t work and its case was empty. The entire activity was sabotaged for the individual interests of some former directors.

It was necessary to start everything from the beginning or the solution of the Cham problem would go adrift. The branches of the association in districts and the central direction in Tirana needed to be revivified. After the new elections in these branches, it was necessary to organize an impressive convention, so to inform the international and the Albanian opinion that the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria” existed and it was acting too. I was in charge of this duty, but how would I achieve it? How would I go in the districts?

My friend Shefki Hysa was willing to help me one more time. He put at my disposal his car and some friends’ vehicles and he accompanied me everywhere. We travelled day and night from one place to another and briefly we managed to revivify the structures of the association. It began to work and its budget increased.

We had daily contacts with America and other countries, where our friends acted. We strengthened the contacts with foreign embassies in Albania, especially with the American, Italian, German and Turkish diplomats, with many politicians and diplomats in the world, especially with the Internationalist Party, which was leaded by the Italian Euro deputy Marko Panela. A resolution to support the solution of the Cham issue was approved in this party convention.

Meanwhile, with our encouragement the senator Hillary Clinton organized a special session in the American Senate for the Cham issue, where the Greek party was called too, and it gave its explanations. So the Cham issue, with our work, was becoming more international.
It was the time when we were working really hard for the organization of a spectacular convention and Shefki was always near me. The convention was a big success and echoed everywhere for all that certain elements tried to annul it. I was elected General Director.
After the event different elements began to arrange meetings in coffee-bars and they opposed the working of “Chameria” Association. This fact demoralized me and I was thinking to resign. As always, I could count on my friend Shefki. But at the very peak of our association’s achievements I resigned. The clan that constrained me to resign took “Chameria” Association and after a year of direction, the association almost didn’t exist. All the structures were merged.

After the event, Servet Mehmeti, the after director, Shefkiu and me, tried to revivify the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria” again but someone managed to destroy this regeneration.

I have had and I still have an anxiety in my soul: During the activity of “Chameria” Association I wanted Shefki Hysa to be continuously part of its leading structures, but “the serpents”, those who poisoned the continuation of our work, didn’t accept. They were afraid of his ability, zeal and sensibility.

I am sorry, my friend, Shefki Hysa that even now all the structures of “Chameria” Association collapsed and its voice is hardly listened. I am really sorry as to weaken and fall sick of this wound but I am appealing to you:

Don’t stop this vigor, my brother!

Remember that I am alive and I haven’t made a praying to die!

Qani Biraçi
Former Director
of the Patriotic Political Association “Çamëria”

March, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

They will return like the swallows

They will return like the swallows

(Impressions from Hamit Toçi,
major, police officer)

When I read the books of the writer Shefki Hysa, I feel immediately that they convey Chameria flavor. They bring in front of my eyes the primeval Albanian nobility and they unfold in the readers’ minds the resistance and the survival of the Albanian man in front of the barbaric invasions that have threaten him for centuries. In the arms of that heroes’ world that they reflect, is raised and echoes magnificently the Cham ballad too, appears his hero, the big poet Bilal Xhaferri, who looks grievously his native land, the martyr Chameria, with its lands abandoned from the violence of the Greek chauvinism. In front of your eyes appear, like birds that chirp in olives, the dead people of those difficult years, when the Chams were violently deported, killed and massacred from the chauvinist hangmen.

It seems as though even the burnt woods and the bloody ground, the alleys with causeways, covered with the mud created from the innocent human blood and ash, scattered by criminal hand, talk and witness in these writings. The Albanian letters lighten and rumble in the book pages of the writer Shefki Hysa, who is at the same time the editor of “Eagle’s wing” magazine and the director of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”. His writings, full of longing and pain, reflect with simplicity and sincerity the problems of a population, still searching the truth for the home lands, for the early childhood, the origin, for its work and war against the barbarians and the vandals that have prosecuted them for centuries. This is a distressing truth that is denied to them under the eyes of the civilized world.

In his writings, the writer Shefki Hysa speaks full of zeal for the friends and the mates, for the patriots and the remarkable men that Chameria has generated. The Cham land is and must be a nest for the Chams, the same as the hideout that the swallow builds for its birds and it never forgets about it, notwithstanding the winter migration. The Cham land can’t be abandoned because it has been for a long time a fatherly shelter for the grandfathers and the forefathers of today Chams, who were deported in a barbaric way from their homes. The Cham ideal seems like a dream today but it won’t last too much and everything will become a reality. The Cham world will flourish as once.

“Eagle’s wing” magazine, with its publications, speaks clearly for the negation of the Cham rights, but it shows how their problem is supported vigorously by the politics of the western diplomacies, such as America, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey etc. Necessarily, one day, their right will get out. Even the Cham organizations, such as Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”, Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri”, Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” etc., have contributed for this and with their work they have been imposed to all the patriots, wherever they are. And I can say by rights that the day when every Albanian will shout “Viva Chameria” is coming!

Inspired by the composition of the writer Shefki Hysa and his leading work in head of the Cham organizations, it’s my right to say that this insupportable and grave injustice toward Chameria, will find its solution with the support of Europe and America. Different political speculations of certain chauvinist segments that attempt to negate the Cham issue are going under.

Hamit Toçi
Police Officer

March, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009


(Impressions from Rexhep Morina,
imam of Chicago mosque)

Honored Brothers, welcome!

I announce you that today we have some friends from Albania.

As you have heard, after the collapse of communism in the Eastern Europe and especially in the maternal Albania, the interest for the emigrants, for all the patriots, wherever they are, is bigger. It’s time to see with our eyes the democracy and the freedom that we have dreamt for Albania. Henceforth we are living all together the freedom of our country. Albania, our country, is open. Our brothers, hereupon the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”, in collaboration with the Albanian government, are interested to take the bones of the remarkable writer Bilal Xhaferri, who has contributed so much in the national culture.

As you know, I have lately come in Chicago and I didn’t know Bilal Xhaferri when he was in life, but his name and his work have sounded in my ear. It reminds me Bilal Habeshija, the hero of our Islamic belief, who never stooped before any kind of torture, endured all the physical sufferings and he didn’t betray the faith, his idea before the idolaters.

Bilal Xhaferri even in emigration, in America, gave his contribution for the Albanian population and his homeland and for this he deserves to be buried with honors in Albania, near our big writers, the Frashëri brothers, Konica, Fishta etc.

Our mosque here in Chicago, which accompanied Bilal Xhaferri in his last habitation some years ago, will start this ceremony.

Collaborating with the initiators of this activity, with Mr. Shefki Hysa and other friends and with the Albanian government, I want to make as big as possible this ceremony that this patriot man, who didn’t reserve anything for his ideal, the ethnic Albania and our national culture, deserves indeed.

Mr. Shefki Hysa, the Director of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” and one of the main organizers, is going to explain you more in detail about this activity.
Thank you all!

Rexhep Morina

April, 1995

Grateful for the hard work

Grateful for the hard work

(Impressions from Bedri Myftari,
former director of the Patriotic Political Association “Chameria”)

The well-known intellectual and writer Shefki Hysa, with his initiative, since the origins of democracy, founded the publishing house with the name of the international and Cham literature symbol, Bilal Xhaferri, to heighten the cultural values of an omitted region as it is Chameria. This publishing house, besides the promotion of Chameria cultural and artistic values, helped and published all the creations of the dissident writers, detested by the communist dictatorship, like the works of the Albanian Mandela, Pjetër Arbnori and the manuscripts of Bilal Xhaferri, Namik Mane and of many other persecuted writers.

Besides, a lot of world literature works that were prohibited in the dictatorship period were published in the Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferri”. This publishing house expanded and became known even in Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and in all the Albanian lands of Diaspora, up to America. That’s why the creators and the artists are grateful to the indefatigable writer and intellectual Shefki Hysa. Besides, Shefki Hysa created even the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” with a group of Cham writers, artists and journalists, as well as many friends of the writer Bilal Xhaferri.

Shefki Hysa has a special merit for the exaltation of Bilal Xhaferri’s figure. And we, the friends of Bilal, should know at first this merit, we should be grateful to him for life, not only for his indefatigable work in the issue of the Cham culture promotion, but because he did what we didn’t do. He did the impossible, going in the highest instances of the Albanian state, and brought the bones of our big writer Bilal Xhaferri, which repose now in the Jonian sea-line, in the lands of the martyr Chameria that Bilal loved so much.

Shefki Hysa’s work doesn’t finish here. He took “Eagle’s wing” magazine that Bilal founded and set up in Chicago, America, where he published 39 numbers and made it flew like an eagle in Tirana. And now “Eagle’s wing” has reached over 80 numbers. This magazine will live as our Albanian mountains will live.

Bedri Myftari
Writer, publicist

March, 2009

(Impressions from Riza Milla,
director of Democratic League for the Albanians of Montenegro,
in Chikago)

Patriots from all regions, from Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Ulqin and around are reunited to honor Bilal Xhaferri’s figure. Those who have known him personally but even activists that have never had the opportunity to meet him but have heard about him by their colleagues and have appreciated him with sympathy, are reunited to accompany him in the maternal Albania. It’s been so many years since his pitiless death but the memories and the works he left us to transmit them to the young generations, is and remains a big asset for the thesaurus of our national culture. Bilal Xhaferri’s personality is being affirmed day by day and is becoming a reality even for those severe adversaries who didn’t save his life, using the most ignoble methods, in exile too, to cut his pen. A proverb says that the host’s bread and the berserk’s gun can’t be stopped. Even Bilal Xhaferri’s pen, by which he raised his voice against the Albanian dictator and dictatorship, couldn’t be stopped. He was depressed for Albania and the Albanians and said that we Albanians are the most ancient population of Balkan and we don’t deserve to live isolated of other European populations. He couldn’t accept Albania without Kosovo and Chameria and said: “There isn’t an Albanian state without Kosovo, Chameria, Plava and Gucia, Hoti and Gruda”…

Instead of becoming a reality, his ideas were converted in a family tragedy. As it is known, his father was shot because he wanted Albania to be up to the place where was spoken the Albanian language. Blood can’t become water. And the son continued the father’s way, even though he knew his life was in danger.

The Albanian communist government adjudicated him as people’s enemy, without taking into account his talent and his work at service of the country. But Bilal couldn’t be Albanian people’s enemy. He was only a political opponent of the dictatorial system, which aimed and realized, with the most horrible methods, the total human discrimination. The intellectual Bilal Xhaferri, with the hope of better days coming, went into exile, against his desire, but unfortunately he didn’t enjoy those happy days he had dreamt. It wasn’t said to view a free, democratic Albania.
We thank the initiators, Mr. Shefki Hysa, representative of the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”, and the Albanian Democratic Government that gave us the opportunity to satisfy Bilal Xhaferri’s desire after the death. Finally his body will repose in the entrails of the earth that he loved so much, for which he died and was burnt as a candle, as Naimi, the big poet of Renascence, sang.

We beg the Albanian government and all the other governmental and nongovernmental institutions of our maternal country, to work for the Albanian’s good, wherever they are, to respect and honor them while they are alive, not to enounce them heroes only after death. To work with spirit and consecration as does the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” which is fulfilling with success its major mission, the return of Bilal Xhaferri in Albania.

We all wish we could return one day at our homeland, in that sacred land of Gjergj Kastrioti and Ismail Qemali, of Shote and Azem Galica and many other heroes. Greet Albania for all the emigrants, when getting there!

The memory of Bilal Xhaferri will last in eternity, as that of all our shiny heroes!
Thank you and have a good flight toward the lands of maternal Albania!

Riza Milla

May, 1995

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”

The Program

The Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” (The Cultural Community of Chameria) is a nongovernmental organization with a humanitarian character, created from the voluntary union of the Albanian and foreign friends and well-wishers of the remarkable dissident writer Bilal Xhaferri.

This organization, founded in 1993 by an initiatory group of artists, journalists, writers and other representatives of the cerebral elites, was legally approved with the no. 28 decree of the Minister of Culture, on 30 October 1994. It has been put at Albanian national culture’s service, especially at service of art, literature and Cham culture.

It has its center in Tirana and operates in all the Albanian territory, in Kosovo, in Macedonia and in all the states where are concentrated the Albanian communities, especially in USA, where Bilal Xhaferri has lived and worked until he died on 14 October 1986.

The cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” aims to achieve these objectives:

The figure of the remarkable dissident poet, narrator, publicist and politician Bilal Xhaferri, who was infringed by the former Albanian communist dictatorship, needs to be retreated.

His name will be glorified and perpetuated in different cultural and educative institutions.

His work in poetry, prose and publicism will be collected and published.

His major work will be disseminated in the Albanian territories and also translated and published in foreign languages with the purpose to confront these Albanian values with those of the most advanced world civilizations.

The poet’s bones could return from USA to his homeland in collaboration with the Albanian state.

He was decorated as “Martyr of Democracy” and other degrees by the President of the Republic.
The publication in Albania of “Eagle’s wing” magazine, founded in Chicago by Bilal Xhaferri as an organ for the dissemination of the association’s activity, of the Albanian national issue and of the Cham ideal.

The selection, the publication and the dissemination of the young talents’ works and their encouragement in the difficult conditions of trade market to avoid the same traumas that Bilal Xhaferri had suffered.

The cultural, the artistic and the social activities of the young talents, especially the talents of the Cham community in all the fields, will be encouraged.

His works- national and international values, will be selected, published and disseminated and also put at service of Albania’s and Diaspora’s compatriots.

Artistic and folkloric groups of Cham territories will be put up.

The activity of the publishing house and printing -house “Bilal Xhaferri” will broaden and put at Albanian culture’s service.

The library “Bilal Xhaferri” will be built up.

The museum “Bilal Xhaferri” will be built up.

Chameria’s figures and personalities will be glorified.

Short films about Bilal Xhaferri’s life and work, about personalities that were near him and also other remarkable personalities of the Cham territory, will be realized.

Young talents and intellectuals of the Cham territory will be stimulated to follow state or world universities and also specialized.

The technical assistance for the Cham young talents and intellectuals will be assured through the collaboration with the western world and especially with USA.

The talented boys and girls of the Cham community will be employed in the Albanian state administration, in foreign legations and in Albanian legations in foreign countries as diplomats and ambassadors of the Albanian culture and the Cham ideal.

The association’s activity will be coordinated with the Albanian state’s structures for the realization of its objectives and purposes at service of the Albanian national issue and of the Cham ideal.

The association’s work will be coordinated with the activities of foreign governmental and nongovernmental organizations, with powerful institutions and personalities of the West in support of the Cham issue.

The association will join international organizations etc., etc.

Translated by: Lorena Uliu

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How was founded the publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri”

By Dr. Haim Reitan

How was founded the publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri”

The publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri” is one of the first Albanian publishing organs of the post-communist period with the purpose to select and to publish the most prominent values of the world literature, the Albanian dissident literature and the creativity of the young talents that are at risk to lose in the difficult conditions of the trade market.

The publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri was created as a result of the idea that the culture, the art, the literature and the personalities that represent them, with their values, are the ambassadors and the most convincing and effectual diplomats for the dignified presentation of a nation before the other civilized nations. In January 27, 1992 the Ministry of Culture released the permission for the foundation of this publishing organ. The minister at that time was the writer Vath Koreshi, one of the promoters and supporters of the literary beginnings of the talent Bilal Xhaferri. Vathi signed with enthusiasm the permission for publishing activity and promised that he would constantly give his support and that of many friends of Bilali.

At that time the work of Bilal Xhaferri was forgotten. His values were denied from the former communist dictatorship. It was the duty of the Cham intellectuals like Shefki Hysa to glorify the work of Bilal and the treasures of the Cham culture and folklore, great values that were infringed and the Albanian public didn’t know. The marvelous pearls of the popular Cham epos could be expressed in front of the Albanians and the civilized world through the figure of Bilal Xhaferri, an exceptional talent that had shined like a star in the horizon of the Albanian literature in 1960s and was suddenly extinguished from the fatal stroke that it took from the former communist dictatorship. The Albanians and all the foreign well-wishers, being familiar with these wonderful values of Chameria, would raise the interest and fell in love with the Cham issue like a singular and sacred religion institution that belonged even to them.

Thus the publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri” due to the capacities, the great zeal and the numerous contacts with the Albanian and international politics of the writer Shefki Hysa, increased and it was experiencing day by day a bum of selected publications from the world literature, books of former outraged personalities like Pjetër Arbnori and especially works of young talents. Its staff made all the attempts that the young boys and girls, full of talent, not only of the Cham Community, could find themselves in the publishing house “Bilal Xhaferri”, be affirmed and not meet with the whilom destiny of Bilal, in the difficult period of the cruel capitalist transition that Albania was experiencing.

It was difficult to find monetary instruments for books publications in the first years of the post communist period and the young talents saw a dreams shelter in this publishing organ, part of the institution: The cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri”…

The novel “Krastakraus” of Bilal Xhaferri was published in 1993. It was one of the most artistically realized works with the topic and the problems of the Albanian ethnicity, so preferred from this author. The publication was enabled with the assistance of the Cham intellectual Ballkiz Halili, who has kept for years a typescript copy of this novel. This publication was a great and unexpected success. Finally the Albanian public had in his hands one of the most dignified works and not only the figure of Bilal, the dissident writer that had scuffled with the former Albanian communist dictatorship. The number of the publications increased every year and the Publishing House “Bilal Xhaferr” played an important role to introduce the Cham problem that was near the solution, in the national and international area.

Some of the most known publications of this institution with national values are:

“Fatal love”, romance (1992), Alfred de Musset
“Bloddy Love ( Beyond the distances)”, romance (1992), Bilal Xhaferri
“The respectful prostitute”, novels (1992), Jean Paul Sartre
“When the vikings invade”, novel (1992), Pjetër Arbnori
“The flaw of the heart”, poetry (1992), Gjin Progni
“The turtledove and the devil”, tales (1992), Shefki Hysa
“Krastakraus (Berati crumpled), novel (1993), Bilal Xhaferri
“Don’t remind me the death”, poetry (1993), Rudina Hasa
“Rebel”, poetry (1993), Shpëtim Roqi
“The night of the foreign cypresses”, essay (1994), Artur Spanjolli
“The beauty and the shadow”, romance (1994), Pjetër Arbnori
“Hostages of peace”, novel (1994), Shefki Hysa
“Peccant angel”, poetry (1994), Mirela Rapi
“The living dossiers”, journalism (1995), Agim Musta
“The pergola of the tears”, poetry (1995), Namik Mane
“The homesick horse”, poetry (1996), Arshin Rexha
“The dream stars”, poetry (1996), Etleva Shahini
“The vortex”, novel (1997), Pjetër Arbnori
“The cursed paradise”, novel (1997), Shefki Hysa
“The sold paradise”, poetry (2002), Dylbere Dika
“And the day dies”, tales (2003), Dylbere Dika
“Soul scream”, poetry (2004), Liri Hidërshaj
“Aroma of Chameria” , tales (2004), Shefki Hysa
“The false miracles”, tales (2005), Shefki Hysa
“Spiritual lactacion”, novel (2005), Liri Hidërshaj
“For a little bit happiness”, poetry (2006), Venka Capa
“The narration”, novel(2006), Liri Hidërshaj
“Dialogue for the impossible peace”, journalism (2006), Hysen Haxhiaj
“Family sorrow”, poetry (2006), Mina Çaushi
“With our feet we traveled the world”, novel 2007), Xhulia Xhekaj
“Dodona, the ancient temple of Albania”, research articles (2007), Rasim Bebo
“The regret”, novel (2007), Liri Hidërshaj
“The tears of the rose”, poetries (2008), Kostaq Myrtaj etc, etc.

It was extracted from the book “The diplomacy of self-denial”
of the writer Shefki Hysa,
Tirana, 2008

What is the cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri”?!

By Dr. Haim Reitan

What is the cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri”?!

The cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri” (The Cultural Community of Chameria) is an Albanian NGO, with centered in Tirana, founded by a group of journalists, writers, artists and intellectuals, friends and well-wishers of the noted dissident poet, narrator and publicist Bilal Xhaferri, which aims to point out the brilliance of this outraged figure, thrown in forgetfulness by the former communist dictatorship and the sublimation of our national culture values versus the advanced civilizations' values, especially those of the martyr Chameria.

The cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri” has been founded in 1993 and it was approved legally in 1994 as a specialized cultural multifunctional institution in order to expand the activity of “Bilal Xhaferri” publishing house, which was created since 1991 by the writer Shefki Hysa, as one of the first publishing organs of the post communist period. It had as a purpose the selection and the publication of the most prominent values of world literature, Albanian dissident literature and works of the young talents that risk losing in the difficult conditions of the trade market.

The boom of the publications of this publishing-house and the big echo of its activity in those years, initiated the idea that an institution, with bigger spaces and legal purview than those of a simple publishing organ, was indispensable. Thus, it was necessary to found a cultural multifunctional organism, more dignified, an unprofitable organization that should include even the publications field and at the same time it should have possibilities to collaborate with governmental and non-governmental institutions in all the life views, inside and outside the country.

A group of Cham activists, in concert with their friends in different regions of Albania and in Diaspora, discussed a long time with the best intellectuals of the Cultural Community of Chameria and in collaboration with many writers, artists and other Albanian intellectuals, friends and well-wishers of Bilal Xhaferri and the Cham issue, decided to create a cultural association, that would have besides the publishing-house, even its press. So, they would found a non-governmental organization like the Cham League, which was founded by Bilal Xhaferri, in Chicago, USA or something similar with the association “Chameria”, but disposed toward the Cham culture rather than politics.

As a result of the collaboration, the Cultural Association “Bilal Xhaferri” was founded and consolidated during 1993 and 1994 as a specialized institution that would expand his cultural activity beyond the Albanian borders, in Kosovo, Macedonia and USA to coordinate the work with the Cham League, the Kosovo’s League, the Democratic League of Montenegro, The League of the Albanians of Macedonia and with many other organizations that operated in the American continent. The association would be a potential voice for the support of the Cham problem and for its solution in a diplomatic way …Thus, these initiators had to become a little diplomats, like all the writers and artists that take the role of the ambassadors of their country’s culture… In this way they would become missionaries of the Albanian culture, her diplomats…

But who were some of the friends that joined the table of this association and helped with the Albanian heart the Cham ideal?! Even well-known intellectuals were distinguished among them. We can mention: Namik Mane, Pandeli Koçi, Pjetër Arbnori, Dritëro Agolli, Ismail Kadare, Ballkiz Halili, Dhori Karaj, Faik Teodori, Fatos M. Rrapaj, Hektor Sejko, Hekuran Halili, Namik Selmani, Martin Mato, Minella Kureta, Sokol Jakova, Vath Koreshi, Axhem Çapo, Balil Proda, Bujar Shurdhi, Qani Biraçi, Xhemil Lato and many others, not only Chams…

Very soon, the cultural association “Bilal Xhaferri” was expanded not only in the areas of the Cham community but even in the main districts of Albania, wherever the friends of Bilal Xhaferri’s work and ideal lived… It created very good relations with the structures of the Albanian state, with politicians of every political spectrum, with those of the position and opposition, with the old politicians and the young ones such as: Pjetër Arbnori, Sali Berisha, Ibrahim Rugova and Fatos Nano, Aleksandër Meksi, Servet Pëllumbi and Skënder Gjinushi, Sabri Godo, Fatmir Mediu, Namik Dokle and Arian Madhi, Edi Rama, Hashim Thaçi, Gramoz Ruçi, Bamir Topi, Besnik Mustafaj and Neritan Ceka, Petro Koçi and Preç Zogaj, Ilir Meta, Pëllumb Xhufi and Sabri Hamiti, Makbule Çeço, Jozefina Topalli, Diana Çuli, Lajla Pernaska, Valentina Leskaj, Mimi Kodheli, Majlinda Bregu and many others.

The contacts of this association were extended and consolidated even with the American, Italian, German and Turkish embassies etc, or with personalities of the world diplomacy and culture like Hillary Clinton and Doris Pack, Miranda Vickers and James Pettifer, Marko Panela and Callenback, Dr. Haim Reitan, Amir Gilad etc.

A generation of poets, journalists, intellectuals and young talented politicians such as Agim Mero, Alma Ahmeti, Bianka Bilali, Dylbere Dika, Florian Bulica, Fllanxa Veshi, Kadri Aliu, Kostaq Myrtaj, Ismail Murtaj, Leonora Bilali, Mina Çaushi, Rudina Hasa, Yllka Sulku, Xhulia Xhekaj and many others afterwards would become in years the big armature of the warriors of the Cham ideal that this association had as a purpose…

The magazine “Eagle’s wing”, founded by Bilal Xhaferri in USA became the organ that reflected and continues to reflect all the activity of this patriotic organization.

The main purpose of this organization is to point out the grandiosity of the figure of Bilal Xhaferri and the values of the Cham and Albanian culture near the best world values… The most imminent objective that was assigned to realize this purpose was: The restitution of the bones of Bilal Xhaferri in Albania that was realized in May 6, 1995 with the contribution of the Albanian state and the writer Shefki Hysa, director of this association…

An in this way began a long collaboration with all the governmental and non-governmental organisms, until it was made possible that the bones of Bilal Xhaferrit could come and repose in Saranda. A lot of other purposes in benefit of the Albanian culture and the final solution of the Cham problem were the other objectives to achieve…

It was extracted from the book “The diplomacy of self-denial”
of the writer Shefki Hysa,
Tirana, 2008